Cambodian police unintentionally caught a wanted British pedophile on Wednesday when they arrested him in Siem Reap City for failing to renew his passport and visa, officials said on Thursday.
Damien Midgley, 39, of West Yorkshire, England, arrived in Cambodia in 2014 and attempted to renew his visa in February but was told that his passport was too close to expiring, according to Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department.
“We recommended that he extend it at the embassy…and invited him to bring his passport to the immigration department [afterward], but he never appeared,” he said. “So we told provincial police to search for him” in Siem Reap once his visa expired.
Mr. Midgley was arrested in Siem Reap City at 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to Vann Tith, deputy chief of the provincial immigration police bureau.
“We arrested him while he was drinking alcohol with his friends inside the Khmer Kitchen Restaurant in the Pub Street area,” he said, adding that Mr. Midgley was immediately handed over to officials from the provincial immigration department.
But it was not until Thursday morning that the Briton’s criminal history came to light, according to Major General Heisela.
Upon informing the British Embassy about Mr. Midgley’s arrest, he said, “I heard he was involved in pedophilia.”
“In a British court, he was convicted in absentia to six years in prison, but I am not sure about the specific date because I haven’t received an official document yet,” he said. “After he was convicted, he fled to Thailand and then Cambodia.”
Under questioning at the provincial immigration department yesterday—but before officials learned about his criminal past—Mr. Midgley admitted that he had been living in Cambodia illegally.
“He didn’t dare show up at the embassy because he is a fugitive,” Maj. Gen. Heisela said, adding that Mr. Midgley would be deported to the U.K. next week, and that his department was in contact with British officials about the case.
The British Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a December 2014 article published in The Press, a York-based newspaper, Mr. Midgley was working as a horseback-riding instructor at the Newthorpe Equestrian Center in North Yorkshire when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing four of his young students.
Subsequently released on bail, he was charged and convicted in absentia, according to the newspaper.